Posts Tagged ‘Business Planning’

6 Ways Strengthen Your Connection with Your Customers

10-14 Customer relationships smallYour first sale may feel like a huge validation of your vision, and your first passel of sales may leave you feeling confident. As much as you treasure sales though, it’s your customers that make your business run smoothly. While many of your customers will only buy from you once, other customers will give you repeat business. And once you establish a relationship, they will happily buy from you again and again as long as you continue to deliver great service and products.  So what can you do as a small business owner to build, support, and encourage a long-lasting relationship with your customers? Here are six habits that guarantee they’ll keep coming back for more of what you offer.

1. Make Good on Your Promises

If you promise to fulfill an order, you must complete it in the timeframe you promised. If you said the product will be delivered in a pink box by a bear, and it gets there in red box delivered by an ox, you have failed. Yes, the delivery made it and most customers will appreciate that, but by not following through as you promised, you’ve already damaged trust.

2. Find a Balance Between Value and Profit

When you undervalue your product or service, the quality of your offering will be questioned. Also, if you set the bar too high, you may miss part of your market by charging too much. As a business owner, it is important to fine tune this balance; charge too little and you won’t make any profit; charge too much and people will go elsewhere for the same product at a lower price.

3. Focus on Quality

Whatever specialty you offer, be it goods or services, the quality of your offering will deepen devotion. Yes, you can obsess about details that make you lose focus on the big picture, but you rarely will go wrong when you improve the quality of your product. Ask your customers how you can improve their experience and take action on her suggestions.

4. Stay in Front of Difficulties When They Occur

Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, you will make mistakes. The more quickly you acknowledge them, the more quickly you can correct them. Never let your customer tell you about a problem that you already know about. Reach out to your customer and alert her if you know your shipment is late or you’ve sent the wrong item. Don’t depend on the customer’s lack of attention to amend the situation. You will gain respect and appear extra reliable.

5. Show Appreciation

It really is as easy as saying or writing “thank you for your business.” Of course, if you want to do more, I don't think there is a customer alive who will discourage that. Create a loyalty program, special flash sales, discounts on large orders, gifts with sales, and referral benefits are all ways to show your appreciation. Birthday specials, trunk shows, or exclusive benefits are extra ways to say “Thank you!”

6. Keep in Touch

Don’t just close the sale and move on. Your follow-up after a completed transaction is key to repeat business. You need to find out how everything went. But if a customer hasn’t purchased in a while reach out to them. You don’t even have to bring up future business. You can thank them for past order or share a tidbit of information to reconnect. Just touching base can motivate a past customer to think about your brand again.

Making the effort to build a relationship with a customer will pay off long term. It takes such a small amount of effort to keep a customer happy and buying, just make the effort.

Become a Stage For Customer Interactions

In my last article, I discussed how to make it easy for your customers to share their impressions of your business. Today’s theme is related: helping customers connect with each other as they together experience your service. 

People shopping in a retail store.While your business may be the star of your life, for your customers it represents something different.  It will never, as a matter of fact, be the center of your customers' lives. Only your customer, and the people your customer cares about, will every hold that position.  So a business often insinuates itself best into a customer’s life, memory and loyalty by being a backdrop to the story of their lives, as experienced with their friends and family. By learning from them, learning about them, and then getting the heck out of the way, or at least out of the foreground of the experience.

Restaurants, for example, provide the setting for marriage proposals, love affairs, breakups, arguments and, according to every mob drama I’ve ever enjoyed, the occasional professional hit. Not to mention the more prosaic: business meetings, shared sunsets and outings with coworkers. This isn’t isolated to foodservice setting: Airlines, hospitals, even the DMV, can be settings for the drama that runs through customers’ lives. Embracing this reality can allow your business to become very powerful, by helping customers to live out the drama and fantasy of their lives with the people who matter to them.

“My goal in life is to make you a hero to your spouse,” luxury hotelier Mark Harmon tells me. If Harmon were more shortsighted, he might set his aims on something more conventional: making his hotels the most profitable properties in the luxury hotel market, for example. But Harmon focuses on his customers’ goals rather than his own. As he puts it, “The touches we add [help] make for a memorable time together here. This is important, and we take it seriously. In the big scheme of things, how often as a couple do you really—I mean really—get away from the kids and get to connect, in a stress-free setting? We’re honored that guests let us be the setting for that, whether or not it’s technically what you’d call a special occasion.” Harmon feels his Auberge Resorts’ success is built upon the relationships his guests have with each other while enjoying Auberge’s service. It’s an astute and effective way to serve today’s customers.

For the fraught, high-stakes referral healthcare that Mayo Clinic is known for, treatment often becomes a socially complex, multigenerational affair. Mayo addresses the inclusion of family members and loved ones through design. Every exam room is designed to encourage collaboration and commiseration. One simple change has made a big difference: Each consultation room, as Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic author Leonard Berry has observed, features a specially designed, multipurpose couch instead of a couple chairs that only two can use and are rarely plentiful enough for everyone who needs to be present.

You may not think the relationship-conduit model applies to every business situation, but it applies quite widely. The True Value Hardware store and the CVS Minute Clinic seem purely functional at first glance, so putting a priority on facilitating customer relationships there appears beside the point. But even mundane, transactional situations common to the Minute Clinic or a hardware store can be improved by keeping an eye out for how relationships among customers can be facilitated. A Minute Clinic is a lot more comfortable for the patient if the patient’s family has a place to sit as well; the same goes for a customer at True Value if there are changing tables (for when you bring the family) and aisles wide enough to accommodate a shopping companion who gets around via wheelchair.

How to Implement Goal Setting in Your Small Business

I know what you’re thinking: I am tired of not moving things forward enough in my business. I’m here to tell you that the reason why this is happening is because you are not measuring yourself against business goals. Are you one of these people who says, “Why set goals if you never end up meeting them?” Or you know you should set goals, but you haven't quite gotten around to it (like backing up your data or keeping your antivirus software up to date). I encourage you to shift your thinking about goal setting. When you take the time to set goals and follow through on those, it is an investment that pays. Here are six ways to look realistically at your business and create meaningful business goals.

1. Analyze the Current Situation

Look at where you are right now and ask yourself: are you where you want to be? It is imperative that you are clear with yourself about your current circumstance regarding money in the bank, accounts payables, your sales pipeline, and your processes. Once you have established what the present looks like, only then can you plan for the big picture and set goals against it.

2. Create a Roadmap

Focus on long-term goals in a five-year benchmark when you develop your goal roadmap. These reach goals have a place in your overall goal setting, but it is essential to set some clear, attainable milestone goals in the short term . Just as an undergraduate sets a goal toward earning a bachelor's degree before applying to grad school, your road map should include goals you can achieve sooner rather than later that will help you accomplish those long term goals. You may even find that creating yearly measurable goals helps you clarify your vision even further.

3. Break It Into Small Bites

Create short-term tasks to achieve your goals for the next year. Creating monthly and weekly sales goals will help you move the needle on your revenue goals. Need to increase sales? Set a goal for increasing cold calls, social posts and direct outreach such as attending meetings. Need to get people to your website? Establish a content development system and start an editorial calendar. Need better subscription numbers? Work on developing a new free download for your website. Remember: you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t take steps toward making them happen.

4. Stay Focused

It’s not enough to set goals. Now you must make substantial efforts to attain those goals. For example, if you are going to be developing content, set aside one day a week to do that. Be proactive and set deadlines for your milestones in order to achieve those goals. It’s easy to get distracted or discouraged, so keep trying even if you miss a milestone. One of the best ways to stay focued is to avoid or eliminate distractions whenever possible.

5. Work Hard

This is a time when hard work determines your outcome. So many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time working on their day-to-day activities and don’t allocate enough time and resources to commit to achieving their professional goals, and then they wonder why they failed to accomplish those goals. There is a direct correlation between the amount of energy you put toward a goal and its results. Set your biggest goals first, they the annual goals, then the monthly and weekly goals. Once your organize your time this way, you will see a difference in your business.

Is Speed the Best Way for Small Businesses to Attract Customers?

The fast casual business model enjoys continued success for a reason that goes beyond low prices: customers are busy people who see time as money. Every minute that they spend waiting for service is a minute lost to other daily activities. This same concept holds true for any business — from store-fronts to consulting services. But in some cases, faster service can cause a speedy customer exit. Before taking action to accelerate your operations, you have to ask three basic questions to make sure that your changes attract customers, rather than deter them.

1. Will Speed Reduce Quality?

The first question may seem obvious, but you really need to carefully forecast the product or service outcome before you decide how to go into high gear. Maybe speeding up will give you advertising bragging rights because you can deliver custom widgets in half the time of your competitors. If you save time because of a unique manufacturing process that continues to deliver high-quality widgets, you'll have loyal customers. If you reduce production time by eliminating time-consuming (but important) quality assurance checks, however, former loyal customers will stay away in droves when their widgets break down moments after their purchase.

2. Does Speed Require that One Size Fits All?

Next, ask yourself if you can deliver the precise product or service that your customers need at high speeds. Just about every product requires some degree of customization; grocery stores even offer potatoes in a range of types and sizes. The real question is whether your product or service lends itself to offering the right variety right off the shelf or if you need to customize the product to make every sale.

To make this decision, you have to carefully analyze your customer needs. If you sell vinyl siding, for example, sky blue might be a perfect choice for some homeowners, but others may need gray mixed in to blend more naturally with the roof color. Offering stock colors allows you to complete installations more quickly, but it will send many customers to other vendors. If you can speed up the color customization process, however, you offer the kind of speed and flexibility that can attract a broader range of customers.

3. Can Speed Alienate Customers?

Not all time is created equal. Customers don't want to waste time, but they often view the time that you spend with them as a commodity. Service businesses are often particularly tied to time, with medical offices being a primary example. Patients typically (and correctly) place more trust in doctors who spend more time with them. Time is as much a part of the product as a cure. Cut down on that time and patients may feel like they are part of an assembly line. Unless you have no competition, they will look for another doctor who shows greater respect for patients.

Waiting time, on the other hand, is dead time for customers and there are usually any number of ways that you can provide services more quickly. Medical offices show respect for patients by getting them out of the waiting room and into treatment rooms more quickly by providing nurses who handle preliminary tests before the doctor walks in. If they are located in shopping centers, they may provide patients with 15-minute warning pagers. Auto parts stores can dedicate a separate line for customers with time-consuming questions. Customers ordering specific parts can zip through the process — order-takers at the counter quickly deliver a list of parts to order-pickers, who rapidly fulfill customer needs from a well-organized warehouse.

Efficiency is Always a Worthwhile Goal

Time is money for your customers and for your business, so it makes sense to constantly look for ways to deliver high-quality products and services as efficiently as possible. Even if you can't advertise "the world's fastest service" or "customized wedding gowns while you wait," your customers will recognize your company's value and pass the word along to others. Remember that word-of-mouth is often the best advertising of all.

How to Retain Talented Employees In Your Small Business

9-23 Retail employees smallIn your business, your team is everything. Even if you follow the guidelines from my blog on how to hire your first employee on the best practices for hiring and interviewing candidates, some bad seeds will still find ways to slip through the cracks. It’s not just poor workers who will affect how your team pool changes. Millenials, who comprise the largest generation currently working, have exhibited a trend of job-hopping in search of the best job with the highest compensation. The goal for you, as a small business owner, is to prevent your most talented employees from jumping ship. Here are some tips for how to retain your best and brightest employees.

1. Think Long-Term

If it’s financially impossible to increase an employee’s compensation, you need to remind him/her that one day it will be. Be sure that all of your employees have a concrete idea of what your vision is for your business and what role they’ll play in helping your get there. Make them understand why you do what you do. If you voice how much you believe in yourself and your team, the desire to stay working for you and helping you reach that goal will follow. If you treat your employees well, they’ll trust you enough to know that when you become successful, so will they.

2. Compensate Fairly

Depending on the skill and education levels you require for your position, compensation will play a large role in obtaining and keeping talented people in your circle. A paycheck and its accompanying benefits are a huge factor when workers consider leaving for another employer. Do you offer health benefits, a retirement package or an annual review during which good work is rewarded with a raise? You should consider all of these things and figure out compensation that is fair to keep you best employees

3. Give Perks

While small business owners have the desire to compensate employees very well, we all know money can get in the way. If you can’t financially afford to pay your employees exactly what they deserve, figure out what else you can do to balance the scale. Sculpt a laidback, but professional, work culture where creativity and inter-office friendships are encouraged. Offer paid vacations and sick days, maternity and paternity leave or the use of your equipment for an employee’s side project. Time is free, and if you feel that your employees might deserve more than what they see in their paychecks, there’s no harm in offering other benefits to them.

4. Offer Growth Opportunities

Talented employees are people who crave responsibility and growth. If you’re sure an employee is someone you want to keep on your team, offer him/her the opportunity to take on more challenging and engaging work. This will keep your employee interested while also preventing the job from becoming mundane or predictable. Keep your talented employees on their toes with more demands. They will see and feel the trust and faith you have in them.

You need your employees and they need you too. You will run across your fair share of bad employees during your time as an entrepreneur, but when you begin adding really valuable, talented employees to your team you need to know how to hold on them. It will be the best thing you can do for your business.

Grow Your Business by Facilitating Social Sharing

In most commercial arenas today, sharing by customers is the order of the day.  Before a purchase decision is being made, while it is being made, after it has been made. In the travel industry, this change is particularly striking: there’s no longer a clear before, during and after. It’s all “during,” and the “during” is spent with your friends and loved ones, wherever in the world they may be. Friends are, in a sense, always along for the ride: kibitzing, advising and being advised by you as they plan their own trips while you’re taking yours. Boston Consulting Group has attempted to quantify this: “For a four-day leisure trip, the average consumer spends 42 hours online … dreaming about, researching, planning and making reservations, and then sharing their experiences while they travel or when they get back home.”

This holds true as well for retail, where girlfriends share selfies from the dressing room so offsite friends can help with fit and style. In dining, customers share course-by-course photos of their meals (“foodographs”) in real time. In live entertainment, fans attend concerts and switch perspectives throughout, between the unmediated live experience and viewing or streaming it on their video camera’s tiny screen.

Even in healthcare, tweets and status updates from inside the ER are not unheard of, notably from professional athletes who suffer serious game-time injuries. Getting medical opinions from offsite friends and family members before and even during some procedures is far from rare to boot.

This is a multigenerational phenomenon: Even the venerable Silent Generation has long moved on from shooting slides and loading them into carousels, often thanks to the influence of their younger, more tapped-in family members. Customers today of all ages shop, dine and travel socially, thanks in no small part to smartphones.

Other technological factors include customers’ now effortless ability to share their experiences and reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, as well as the ease of organizing friends, families and unaffiliated interest groups online in ways that result in real-life meet-ups, dinners, dates, drinks and events.

 This socialization of consumption extends beyond what might traditionally be considered friends. Even ostensible strangers—online followers and brands’ online reviewers—are in many cases trusted by younger customers more than the information that comes directly from even well-established brands

Customers today live and consume in a world of search and social. People look for authority online and from acquaintances with similar experiences, perspectives and backgrounds. This is quite a shift in how customers end up making their buying decisions. Buyers include their circle of acquaintances, both the physical and virtual kinds, in practically all their commercial activities—which has a real effect on what ends up getting purchased, and how it ends up being experienced.


Since social consumption is a fact of life for and with today's customers, why not build it right into your product or service? Here are two inspiring examples:

• Hotel 1888 in Sydney, better known as the “Instagram Hotel,” facilitates social sharing throughout its customer experience, with predetermined “selfie spaces” and an “Instagram walk” that they’ve mapped out for you. By celebrating the role of the hotel and its environs as a backdrop, 1888 makes sure it gets in the picture as well.

•   Drybar, the “blowout bar”  that has transformed the haircare industry with its runaway success (they’ve grown from 4 locations when I first encountered them to nearly 40 in the U.S. and London opening soon)  encourages relationships between its customers in several ways. With permission, Drybar posts before-and-after photos of customer blowouts on Facebook and Instagram, whereupon fans critique and comment on the transformations, in some cases selecting certain winners to “hang” on Drybar’s Facebook-based wall of fame. The Drybar mobile app has sharing functionalities built right into it as well. When a customer makes an appointment, she’s invited to share it with friends (who may parlay this originally solo invitation into a real-life Drybar meetup). And offering these social media features works especially well for Drybar because the company follows through by making its physical space conducive to gatherings beyond the solo flyby or two friends catching up. The comfortable, open yet sound-level-aware layout in Drybar makes it a natural choice for birthday parties for nearly all ages as well as for girls’ nights out, bachelorette parties, sweet 16s and more.


So start thinking about how you can turn your business into a stage for customers to share, online and offline, with the people who matter to them.  It will help your business matter more to them–which will matter a lot, in the end, for the success of your business.

10 Key Features & Advantages of Hosted Call Centers

Call centers are a key component of many large organizations, especially those that provide support to their customers. Traditional call centers are extremely costly to implement, with large capital investments and significant IT support required. Additionally, making changes to the system can be time consuming and extremely complicated.

Businesses are always looking for ways to decrease their operational expenses and increase their productivity so they can better serve their customers, and a hosted call center is the answer for today’s businesses.

Whether your company currently utilizes a call center environment, or is looking to implement one in the future as your business grows, moving it to the cloud will significantly reduce your operating costs and increase your business flexibility.

So what are the benefits of moving your call center to the cloud?

  • Financial Savings: Minimal upfront costs, reduced maintenance fees, and a “pay as you go” model make it an ideal choice for today’s businesses.
  • Flexible Work Options & Virtualization:  The ease of provisioning and managing on-site and remote agents, and the ability to use a single central queue which routes calls to agents regardless of their physical location allows for flexibility that was previously unavailable.  
  • Enhanced Operational Flexibility: The ability to rapidly scale up and down and handle unexpected or fluctuating call volume quickly, without disrupting or changing infrastructure, will change the way your business operates.
  • Access to Latest Technologies: Low risk and cost to access cutting edge features e.g. video call centers ensures your business always has the best communications tools available.
  • Business Continuity: With hosted architecture, calls are queued and can be re-routed to alternate locations in the case of service disruption. You always have a business back up plan no matter what is thrown your way.

What are the key features of hosted (cloud) call centers, and what are their business benefits?

  • Call Recording: Record agents’ calls for training purposes and to improve the customer experience. This also provides you with a record of what was said on a call if there is ever a dispute with a customer or agent.
  • Automatic Call Distribution: You decide how you want incoming calls to be routed and the level of importance of each type of call. Route to the appropriate agent based on department, skill level and purpose of the call.
  • Call Queues: Organize users, teams and departments by queues. Callers will be routed to the next available agent in the appropriate queue based on the call distribution policy you specify.
  • Agent Status Display: See the status of every active agent from the web-based client. See agents who are available, on a call, have an incoming call, or are set to an alternate status. This helps to access call volume levels and agent status.
  • Call Center Reporting: Monitor real-time activity, as well as generate in-depth historical data and trends to improve performance and ensure that calls are handled efficiently. You can create customized reports based on your business needs to support unique process and monitoring requirements. Then, use the information to make informed business and staffing decisions.

To learn more about hosted call centers and the positive impact implementing one will have on at your business, please visit

Adopting the Cloud While Mitigating Risk in Your Small Business

9-16 cloud computing smallOnce you decide to move some or all of your operations to the cloud, you may have concerns about risk and security. There are many benefits to adopting the cloud for your small business. The cloud provides instant access to data anytime, anywhere there is an internet connection. Cloud computing also offers scalable storage for files, applications, and improved collaboration regardless of team members' locations; and saved time and money by eliminating the need to build a costly server system and hire an IT manager. Let’s look at some of the risks, and how you can reduce them.

Risk 1: the Cloud Provider Can Get Hacked

Yes, it’s much more appealing to hackers to go after a giant cloud server than your single little company’s server. Essentially, you have no control over this happening. Yes, cloud computing companies take a great deal of precautions and security measures to prevent hacking, but it’s no guarantee your data is 100% safe.

The Remedy: You can encrypt any sensitive material you send to the cloud so that if there is a breach, hackers can’t do anything with your data. Store your encryption key somewhere other than the cloud!

Risk 2: It’s Difficult to Control Access

Because you need to allow many people access to a given file through the cloud, it can become a challenge to keep up with who’s got access to which data. And what happens if a disgruntled employee decides to take sensitive data with him after leaving your company?

The Remedy: Set up a system to manage who gets access to which files, rather than giving blanket permission to all. Require each employee to use a password to access these files, and as soon as they leave the company, remove their access. You should be able to monitor logs of who has accessed which files, and when they have logged in.

Risk 3: What if Your Data Goes Up in Smoke?

Things happen. Hurricanes, fires, and theft happens, even in the cloud. If the servers that store your data are gone, you’re left with nothing.

The Remedy: Back up your data on another system, whether it’s a local server or a different cloud server. That way, you have an “extra set of clothes,” so to speak, should your data be compromised.

Risk 4: Compromising Industry Requirements

If you work in a highly-regulated industry like healthcare or financial services, you know there are serious restrictions on some of your data. You’re unclear on how cloud storage works with these regulations, because sometimes the data isn’t yours anymore once it hits the cloud.

The Remedy: Talk to industry regulators about the cloud’s role in compliancy and used an industry-approved cloud vendor.

Whether you’re looking to use a cloud-based application for email or CRM, or are looking for cloud-based storage, find out what kind of security measures the cloud company offers, and what they take responsibility for in case of data breach. Most of the time, the onus falls on you, since a cloud company can’t be responsible for thousands of companies’ sensitive data, so take your own security measures to ensure that your data, wherever it floats, is as safe and protected as can be.

The Power of 90% Customer Loyalty

9-10 Customer Loyalty smallCustomers today have more purchasing options than ever before as well as fewer obstacles afterward if they want to switch to a different supplier. This embarrassment of riches strains traditional notions of loyalty. But it hardly spells the end for loyalty, not for customers in general and certainly not for millennials, despite what many claim. In fact, even in the supposedly loyalty-averse millennial generation, things aren’t really moving in the direction that you might imagine.  Boston Consulting Group research has shown that younger millennials (ages 18 to 24 at the time of the study), “are three times more likely to report strong brand loyalty than their non-millennial counterparts.”

If my take on this sounds more hopeful than what you’ve heard elsewhere, it’s partly because my definition of customer loyalty differs from most. In everything I do, I aim for what I call “90% loyal” customers—the ones who will stick with you through thick or thin, good times or bad, most of the time.

This 10% wiggle room makes the loyalty goal a bit more achievable by bringing the concept of loyalty more in line with what’s achievable in reality. Because every one of us in business knows the score: If a sexy new restaurant or shop opens across the street from ours, even our best customers are going to want to try it—once. But they’ll be back once their itch for novelty, their fleeting need to cheat on their main squeeze, has passed.

And sometimes, it’s not this need for novelty that makes customers stray from you periodically. Practicality may demand it. A 90% loyal Whole Foods mom or dad may do some shopping at Trader Joe’s or Wegmans when she or he is stuck in a different part of town. And if Mom or Dad's preferred airline doesn’t have a direct flight while another carrier does, this otherwise loyal passenger will most likely take the direct flight if that’s what it takes to get home in time for her or his kid’s soccer game.

Even the ever-competitive Richard Branson once recommended his customers use his archrival British Airways—if only to remind themselves all the more of why they love Branson’s Virgin Airlines. Of course, Branson being Branson, he timed his recommendation for the day British Airways offered a fire sale that he knew Virgin couldn’t affordably counter, and on which British Airways was sure to lose money.

Two more loyalty trends

A couple of trends are complicating the loyalty landscape.

Portfolio loyalty: This occurs when customers are equally loyal to every brand in a small portfolio of trusted brands in a particular category. This behavior wouldn’t be possible without the surfeit of choices consumers now have in almost every consumer category. Consumers have the globalization of commerce, improvements in many companies’ return policies due to competitive pressure, and the various defect-reduction campaigns in manufacturing of the past several decades to thank for all these offerings. (Formerly an automotive punchline, Ford is an impressively reliable manufacturer today. Even a Jaguar—should you be so lucky—will rarely leave you stranded these days.)

Micro-loyalty.  Customers today can have micro loyalties, loyalties for very specific parts of a company’s product line, for example, they can be loyal to Apple for this but Google for that, to Reebok for this but Nike for that, and so forth. They don’t buy an overall identity related to a single brand; they mix and match. They still consider themselves loyal, but it’s a more targeted type of loyalty.

How did this come about? Younger customers today were raised with a lot of support for individuation: They were allowed to make their own choices and work with the results. From mismatched socks (ultimately commercialized by Little Miss Match) to tattoos and piercings to control over hairstyles and how they dress for school, this generation was empowered by its parents to shape its own identity. As marketers and generational researchers Van den Bergh and Behre point out, the Internet has further fostered such mix-and-match identities, at least in the commercial sphere of their lives. Easy-to-find product review sites like Gizmodo make it far easier to sample and choose brands, comparison shopping on mobile phones has long been a reality, and thanks to iTunes and many other sites, even the playlists they listen to are easily stitched together song by song from their own choices rather than relying on the decision of any single artist or record label’s vision for their music.

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